Play Golf Endorsement Ball
Last year, Tiger Woods raised the bar into the clouds on the golf course. Over the past five years, he hasn't just raised the bar for endorsements; he's hung it on the international space station.
Remember Tiger's 'Hello World' debut in late August 1996? He signed a deal with Nike then that was said to be worth about $37.5 million over five years, at a time when few, if any, players were getting more than $2 million or $3 million per year from any one source.
Before that deal was up but after Tiger had shown beyond any doubt that he is the Real Deal, Nike gave him a five-year contract extension worth a potential $100 million.
That tide may float some other yachts, but some high-ranking industry executives see a downside. They fear we may have entered the era of (to use baseball's term) the market adjustment.
Take this David Duval-Titleist lawsuit. Duval left Titleist to endorse Nike products, even though he still had three years left in a five-year deal with Titleist. The reason, say sources close to International Management Group, Duval's handlers, was that Titleist reneged on a promise to feature Duval as the premier player on its staff once Woods had departed for Nike.
Of course, with the matter in litigation, Charley Moore, Duval's agent at IMG, won't confirm whether there was a clause in Duval's agreement allowing Duval to leave in that situation. But the existence of such an out or a 'marquee player promise,' in whatever form, is said to be a crucial issue in the case.
The idea of an escape provision came up in discussions between Titleist and Moore some months after Duval had agreed to his new deal in August 1998, say sources close to the situation. Titleist didn't mind this sort of clause in principle, said a source close to that company. Letters were exchanged on the issue, but Titleist says such a clause never became part of the Duval agreement.
But Titleist has claimed in its lawsuit that Duval - or rather his agents - tried to use that 'marquee player' gambit to exit his agreement early because Nike was in the mood to spend lots of endorsement money, and IMG wanted some of it.
The courts will decide if that's true, along with a bunch of other claims. (For example, why would Titleist spend $500,000 on a commercial with Duval last October if they weren't planning to make him a top endorser, asked one Titleist exec. IMG sources say there was no Duval-only commercial shoot, and certainly not for that kind of money.)
Of course, IMG denies Titleist's allegation. It also won't buy the theory that it was looking for a market adjustment for Duval in light of the money Tiger was getting. IMG sources also deny that the agency was jealous of the deal Titleist made to keep Davis Love III, who had been courted by Nike last year. The parties were characteristically close-mouthed about the numbers, but sources say Love got nearly $50 million for 10 years to stick with Titleist, and Duval was getting about $4.5 million for the first two years of a five-year deal.
IMG representatives have said that it's not just about money; it's about relationships. Indeed, sources say that Duval is not getting any more money at Nike than he did at Titleist. And we know he won't be the marquee swoosh-wearer.
Any of this sound familiar? A-Rod gets the gross national product of Liechtenstein. Jeter wants his piece, Nomar and Frank Thomas want theirs.and on and on. OK, golf endorsements don't approach the insane magnitude of baseball salaries. But one ranking industry executive has confirmed that since the Duval conflict arose, his company has received letters from players' agents essentially requesting early exits if their clients are not to be used as 'flagship' or 'marquee' players.
Agents have to do what's best for their clients. But a deal's a deal, right? That's true whether we're talking about the number of years in it or an escape clause from it.
Things have gotten so bad in baseball that some people see it as only slightly trustworthier than post-Watergate government. Many observers first reacted to news of Rodriguez's 10-year, $250 million deal with the quip, 'No way he'll stay for 10 years.' Baseball players are just expected to jump toward opportunity, no matter what the signed paper says.
With the parties so circumspect, we can't know for sure what David Duval and Titleist were trying to do. The outcome of their lawsuit will, it is hoped, reveal the parties' intentions. Duval has said that will happen.
But what about those other agents who wrote those early-exit-if-my-guy's-not-the-lead-dog letters?
If those letters are indeed out there, and if they say what they're purported to say in conflict with an agreement, let's hope they get filed where they deserve to be.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.